Now that you have beautiful wood floors, you want to keep them in tip-top shape. Whether your wood floors are solid, engineered, or reclaimed wood, the general upkeep routine should be the same. Luckily, the regimen isn’t too rigorous. In fact, simple cleaning is the main ingredient for longevity of wood floors. But there are still nuances that are pivotal for maintenance, which is why we called on the experts.
To get the full rundown, we consulted Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training, and certification at the National Wood Flooring Association; Mark Whatley, production manager at Bay Area retail showroom and contracting company Amber Flooring; and Tommy Sancic, owner of Ohio-based custom antique reclaimed and wide plank flooring manufacturer Olde Wood. Here’s what you need to know.
“Keeping debris off the floor is key,” says Brett. “If there’s a piece of debris on a wood floor and you walk across, it’s like sandpaper on the bottom of your shoe. It can ruin or scratch that surface.” All you need to do is sweep daily, if possible, and regularly vacuum with the hard floor setting, which turns off the brush roll to avoid scratching, or the flat attachment that will protect the floor from bristles. Strong suction is extra useful to pull up dust and debris in cracks and crevices and between planks.
Identify the Right Cleaning Product
When it comes to choosing a product for a deeper clean, there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Different finishes require different treatments, so all three experts suggest listening to the product recommendation of your flooring or finish manufacturer.
However, it is safe to say there are products to always avoid. “I don’t recommend any kind of harsh chemical to clean any hardwood floor,” Tommy says. “Chemicals applied to the finish will create hazing. This can really build up over a period of six months to a year and doesn’t look very good.” According to Brett, “You don’t want to use anything that says it’s going to polish or shine or rejuvenate or revitalize the wood floor. That’s basically telling you that you’re laying out something that’s a supplemental product. It’s putting something on that surface that’ll make it pretty for a short period of time, but it’s not designed to wear.”
Keep Them (Pretty) Dry
Once you’ve found the right cleaning product, use it on the floors with a damp mop. “You don’t want to bring out a wet bucket and start soaking the floors because that’ll cause the wood to swell,” says Brett. He also advises against using steam, which cleans well but allows vapor to enter small spaces and damage the floors.
Know the Warning Signs
Wood reacts dramatically to temperature and humidity, so it’s important to understand the environment that surrounds your floor. Sometimes, though, elements are out of your control, so being aware of red flags can save your wood floors. “The nice thing about wood is that it’s a natural product, so it’ll tell you if it’s not happy,” Brett explains.
If there’s too much moisture on, around, or below the wood, it will cup. Eliminate the source of the water to stop this from occurring. Exceedingly dry conditions induce gapping, cracking, and splitting. Here, a humidifier should do the trick. “Adding a little moisture to the air will allow your floor to settle back down. It’ll make it happy again,” says Brett.
Touch Up Surface Scratches
According to Brett, scratching your floor is completely normal. “It hurts,” he says. “It doesn’t feel good when you scratch your floor, but it’s normal. It’s part of owning a wood floor.” If you do want to fix surface scratches, use a stain marker from a wood furniture touch-up kit. That should do the trick.
Recoat Before It’s Too Late
When the floor is starting to wear down, it’s time to step in and recoat. “A recoat doesn’t involve sanding,” Mark says. “It’s actually applying another coat of finish to the top of the floors to bring back the luster and life of that finish, so you don’t have to go through the sanding process.” This exercise can prolong a floor’s life for many years by adding a layer of protection each time it’s needed.
“The beauty of wood floors is that they can be repaired and refinished and recoated,” says Brett. “A lot of normal wear and tear can be taken care of on a wood floor.”
Feature Image: Pexels
This originally appeared on AD CLEVER | Morgan Goldberg